Developers: Team GrisGris
Publishers: Team GrisGris
Plot: When a classmate prepares to leave school, a group of friends perform a charm to help them stay together forever. A charm off the internet. Yeah, it wasn’t going to work out well…
Corpse Party is the latest craze spreading across the internet, prompting me to get my hands on a PSP for a couple of weeks and starting reviewing them. It features several short chapters, working together as an overall game, so I shall review the chapters slowly over the course of several months.
Corpse Party takes the style of an old-timey side-scrolling game. Think Pokémon but without the adorable animals. The style is very simplistic, featuring your tiny pixelated characters and basic maps. It makes for a very pleasant experience, especially when the charming music kicks in, even when the game cranks its horror up to a new level. Sometimes the pixels are replaced with a brief image of the manga characters, helping you get immersed into the atmosphere, when the pixelated layout cannot quite convey what it needs to. This also helps you tell the characters apart, which is very helpful before you have got a grip on the game and story. I think that the side-scrolling nature also helps get the player relaxed, totally unprepared for the moment the scares actually do creep in. When something does happen, you end up panicking, no longer trusting your abilities with the game mechanics. It totally spins you out and those moments are what really makes this game. Others will be more prepared for what will happen; the internet is pretty much raving about how insane this game gets, so no matter how innocent it makes itself out to be, there will always be that crawling thought in the back of your mind that this game will turn weird at any given moment. While this chapter does have one shocking moment that leaves you shaking, it does feel like an opening gambit. This is the first part of Corpse Party and they are just getting warmed up.
Story becomes Corpse Party’s strong point, but also its downfall. Knowing that side-scrollers can get old fast, Corpse Party piles on a massive story to keep you hooked. It vaguely works, but at the start, you will be wishing you could actually play something. It opens with several characters pranking each other and that dialogue stretches on for ages. It builds up the mythology and background to this old haunted school, just before you are snatched up into another dimension. This works in the long run, but it might lose a few gamers if they are gingerly trying Corpse Party out. Things get better when you are all separated, torn into different plains of existence. In a bizarre yet interesting move, you are asked to start playing two of the supporting characters rather than the leads the introduction built up. At first, this seems like a bad thing, but Naomi and Seiko turn into an enjoyable pair to spend time with. Naomi is a good lead hero, acting as the big sister for her friend. She stays strong for Seiko, but deep down, the misery of the situation is getting to her. Seiko is… for want of a better word… an amazing character. She is fun, excitable and gets the best laugh of the entire chapter. Without meaning to get racist, there are moments with the character that are definitely… Japanese. Some quotes could only ever appear in a Manga. Seiko needs to take a bathroom break, providing the most bizarre moment in the game… no, gaming history. There is also an equally terrific moment when Seiko drools over Naomi’s butt, with the same noise you would make if you were being strangled. Moments like that make Corpse Party great, even if you aren’t really enjoying the simplistic gameplay.
The rest of the game is hit and miss. I enjoy the emptiness to the game; you end up wandering around the same rooms, looking for that one small clue to progress. You don’t really leave the setting, unless you find a hidden key to unlock a small room. You really do get the sense of being trapped, because your progression is bit by bit. It is frustrating in a good way, because that is the intended experience. It helps you understand the helplessness that flows through our two protagonists. However, sometimes the next step isn’t really logical and you end up stumbling through the same, old rooms, until you find a clue that has materialised in a random corner of the map. It doesn’t make much sense and the only way to track it down is repeatedly trying every room in the area. Also, the choice option is pretty lame. You find a board. Do you want to use the board to cross the gap? Yes or no? Well, yes, because there really isn’t any other way to move on with the story. Otherwise, the only flaw is endless dialogue and over-explanation of some of the facts. But the style of game makes this a common flaw with side-scrollers. Enter this game with that in mind, and a lot of patience, and Corpse Party becomes a very rewarding game.
Final Verdict: It’s early days yet, but Corpse Party embraces its simplicity, giving us an eerie, gripping story to start following.